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  • Blockstore Group

Autonomous Grocery Stores vs Cashier-less Grocery Stores

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

By Henna Hynynen, Chief Commercial Officer, Blockstore Group

Grocery stores are evolving to keep up with changes in the market. Some of the factors that have affected the grocery landscape include increasing consumer demands likewise supply chain constraints and inflation.

Retailers have had to adapt their strategies and operations. To keep pace with changing conditions various solutions are being introduced to the market and interest in the innovation of smart grocery stores is increasing.

A lot of talk is around autonomous and cashier-less stores but what type of stores are these? Are the terms cashier-less store and autonomous store the same or are we getting confused about the different terms?

The Difference Between Cashier-less and Autonomous Self-Service Store

One of the most common types of grocery stores that are currently being introduced are cashier-less stores. These are establishments that allow consumers to shop in a self-service manner and leave without a queue. Some of these stores use scan-and-go technology which means a consumer will choose, scan, and pay their purchases with their own smartphone.

Another example of cashier-less stores are stores where customers will scan to enter and scan to exit the store but scanning the items is not necessary. When a customer is ready, they scan to exit, and the grocer charges the customer automatically and sends the receipt of the purchases.

These types of stores are often also called frictionless stores. The goal of a frictionless shopping experience is to provide a convenient and enjoyable shopping experience for consumers. This concept can be achieved through the use of payment methods such as cashier-free transactions.

Drawing of people in a grocery store.

Sounds convenient for the consumers but how about the retailer perspective? After all, one of the most important factors a retailer must consider when implementing new innovations is the potential return on investment (ROI).

So, the question becomes: can a retailer have a positive ROI for their smart store just based on the reduced time for a check-out? In my eyes, cashier-less stores are only one part of the complete smart store solution.

Besides providing a convenient and enjoyable shopping experience, smart stores should also address the other factors that affect the consumer's likewise retailer´s experience e.g., predictive inventory management, pricing optimization, security, safety, and so on.

Blockstore Enabled Autonomous Grocery Stores

From the beginning, Blockstore has been focusing on providing the most optimal environment for our grocery customers and consumers. Why? Simply to provide the best environmental, societal, and economic value. To make the vision of an autonomous retail industry a reality a comprehensive solution is needed.

This can be done through the development of a cloud-based platform that enables grocers to:

1) Improve their efficiencies across the end-to-end operations and

2) Deliver a superior customer experience.

This was the approach we at Blockstore took together with our partners.

By providing real-time data on the various automated operations of a grocery store (e.g., supply chain) we can support our customers to improve efficiency. This is certainly a key differentiating factor as other players in the market are not offering a complete solution with the necessary features to make an autonomous grocery store a reality.

As you may imagine a natural component of our solution is to eliminate the need for a checkout but it's not the only one. We also bring a lot of automation to improve grocery operations supporting grocery retailers to lighten their profit-and-loss cost structure.

Our technology-enabled smart stores can monitor and report on their own condition, generating previously unavailable insights into the performance of the store.

In addition to this, we enable grocers to manage their operations through remote access offering new opportunities for optimization and delivering superior customer experience.

Unlike traditional supermarkets, Blockstore-enabled grocery stores can now operate without the need for their employees to be on the shop floor. Instead, grocery retailers will use automation to provide a variety of services and improve the efficiency of their operations.

Creating Your Store-of-the-future

As there is no “one size fits all,” approach to smart stores we at Blockstore encourage and support our potential customers to align the “why” with their business strategy and competitive advantage.

That is the first step to start exploring whether autonomous store, cashier-less store or some other solution would be best fitted for their needs. After all, technology is the how, not the why to the customers smart store of the future. Therefore, the goal of the smart store should be part of a larger strategy.

I strongly believe that the focus of the smart store should be equal for the consumer and the retailer. Streamlining and automating grocery store operations while providing a superior consumer experience is the only way to achieve long-term success.

Blockstore is here to help grocers to prepare for the future of smart grocery stores. The solution that we offer today is a strong foundation for autonomous and automated grocery stores but as we all know there will always be something new just around the corner.

It is our promise to continue providing grocers with the latest technology and solutions that will allow them to operate more efficiently. We also promise to listen to our customer's special needs and provide them with the necessary features and capabilities when it comes to introducing new innovations.

Picture of a person shopping in Blockstore Group's automated grocery store.

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